What would it be to take a stand for yourself? And what would that look like on the page? You know. Here is something that might help you feel embraced:
Whether you have decided to join me for one of my upcoming writing retreats in Montana, are on the fence, or have decided that this is not the right year or season for you…I wanted to share this letter I wrote to a young writer this morning who is considering attending my retreat. But she is scared. Perhaps it’s about being vulnerable in a group of people, scared of the remoteness of Montana, scared to face herself on the page, even though writing is something that is dear to her and has been since she was a little girl. In an effort to catapult her past her fears, I told her that it was when I started doing writing retreats that my entire writing life changed. She asked me why. Here is part of my answer. I hope it speaks to you.
First a word from a former retreater:
“My time in Montana was the most empowering and uplifting experience of my life and has helped my writing in ways awesome and profound. Laura is a master at bringing out your voice, and the sisterhood that is created in the process is incomparable. GO! GO! If you have any inkling that this might be what you need, you are correct– it is JUST what you need…”
Here’s the letter:
So…why did retreats change my life as a writer… Well, I was in my twenties, living a life that was so different from the one in which I’d been raised. I was out of my comfort zone, on purpose. I’d left the east coast where most of my friends were climbing the corporate ladder. I’d turned down a job opportunity at a major advertising agency in Chicago. I’d even deferred from a creative writing program in SF where I had been planning to get my MFA. I was living in Seattle where I knew no one. I was waitressing. I was a nanny. I was living in a tiny house on an alley. My parents were concerned. My friends were confused. I didn’t have a car—rode my bike everywhere. And I wrote. Writing had always been my lifeline. But it had always been quite private—lonely even. Those early novels I wrote were not just exercises in learning—they were how I processed who I was becoming. The problem was, I wanted to be a published author more than anything in the world and it wasn’t happening.
I had read Natalie Goldberg’s book “Writing Down the Bones” when I lived in Boston, and happened to see that she was speaking in Seattle. That book had been so helpful to me, and I longed to have writer kindreds and to share in her methods which involved group work. So I went to see her and that night joined a writing group of total strangers that still exists to this day. They are my writer sisters, even though we live very different lives in very different parts of the US. We so loved the power of a group of writers that we started doing weekend retreats together which still occur annually. The writing life, plainly put, is deeply solitary. It doesn’t have to be. It can be shared, and that’s what retreats do. It is so important to be witnessed in what you do on the page, in a safe and nurturing environment. That is what I provide on my retreats.
I have designed a three day workshop which helps people go places they might not go on their own in their writing, and find out where their blocks are, hopefully causing breakthroughs. These exercises work no matter where you are in your writing journey. Some women who come on my retreats have finished books. Some have only written their Christmas letter. Some have never written anything since school days. It doesn’t matter. You can engage in these writing exercises within the context of a work-in-progress, or simply as inspiring ways for self-expression. And I promise to keep things safe and nurturing, while still offering opportunities for helpful feedback.
One of the things I care most about is helping to shift the tortured artist paradigm, to the empowered artist. To that end, I’ve shaped the retreat days so that we have an intensive morning class, then free time for a few hours after lunch to be in our bodies in beautiful Montana (yoga, guided outdoor snow-shoeing hikes, and equine therapy). People can choose to sign up for these activities, which are meant to mirror the writing work we did that morning, or spend that time writing or relaxing. Our evenings begin with a social hour that I host, move into dinner, and then to the fireplace in the lodge where we share readings. Some people bring work that they’ve written previously. Other people read from something they’ve written that day. And others might share writing that they love from other authors. This is your chance to get feedback on your terms, while the morning classes are structured for expression without as much feedback (part of what frees the muse and keeps you feeling safe to just go where you need to go on the page).
It is such an honor to guide these retreats and to watch people bloom, get unstuck, move through blocks, have breakthroughs, and mostly to see what happens when a group of women take a stand for their self-expression in the woods of Montana. The experience is profound. I would love to see you here in February.
Here is a blog post I wrote about it with photos:
If you are interested, email me at Laura@lauramunsonauthor.com. There is still space available but it’s filling up fast…
FYI: Whitefish Mountain Resort is a world class mountain, and Glacier National Park is just 20 miles away so consider taking a vacation afterward…